Cebu First Timer: Zenfone Zoom, Max, Sinulog 2016, Smart Invasion and More

Finally I have experienced one of the most festive, most colorful and most talked about yearly celebrations in the Philippines, the Sinulog. All my life I have been hearing people saying Sinulog festival in Cebu should be the number one on my list if I start traveling and witnessing celebrations in different parts of the Philippines. Of course I really did not believe it until I was there seeing and experiencing Sinulog in person for the very first time. It's really an unforgettable one, and I will definitely going back there and know Cebu more with my family and friends in the future years to come. But how did it exactly go and how was I able to come to Cebu in time for this celebration? Read on to know more.

sinulog 2016 This lady was walking quite fast when the photo was taken using Asus Zenfone Zoom. Zoom's Laser Autofocus system was of great help. : )

What is Sinulog?

First off, what is Sinulog? Sinulog is an annual, cultural and religious celebration of Cebuanos in honor the Señor Santo Niño and is held on the third Sunday of January. One of its main highlights is the grand parade which lasts the whole day where you see different participants from different parts of Cebu, Luzon and Mindanao dance in bright colors to the tune of drums, trumpets and many other instruments in the street.

How come I was in Cebu?

I was there because Asus Philippines invited me, together with a lot of bloggers from different parts of the country on January 16 and 17, to attend the local launch of the much talked about Asus Zenfone Zoom and the Zenfone Max smartphones, and to also experience Sinulog 'upclose', you can learn more about it by just checking out #SeeSinulogUpclose hashtag on social media sites. Special thanks to Ria Jose of and Francis Garcia of Asus PH for coordinating with each other in order for this Cebu trip to become a reality. The Asus event was only for two days (Jan 16 and 17), but I, Ria and two other fellow Davao bloggers Sunshine of and Josef Cagas of stayed in Cebu until January 18 as we also had to attend the Smart Sinulog Invasion 2016 that happened on a Sunday night (17th of Jan).

Day 1

We left Davao morning of January 16 via Philippine Airline and landed at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport after about an hour of air travel. From there we were picked up by a service van provided by the Marriott Hotel Cebu, this was where we (together with all other bloggers) booked by Asus Philippines for that two days and one night stay.

The Sinulog fever was already felt as soon as we entered the Marriott Hotel lobby. The image below definitely shows it. We did not want the experience to slip by without capturing the moment using our smartphones. Sunshine and I were the first timers in Cebu and Sinulog, Josef had been there a couple of times while Ria the pinakasuki one. : )

sinulog 2016 (1) FROM LEFT: Ria, Sunshine, Josef and Me

It was about lunch time when we arrived at the venue and we headed straight to the event hall for the smartphone launch, had some very delicious lunch meal while Sinulog songs were playing in the whole of the hall. As soon as every one was done having lunch and enough rest from travel, Asus went ahead and officially introduced us the new Zenfone Zoom device which is very stunning and beautiful in real life than in photos and videos I saw online beforehand.

If you want to see how this particular event went, you may check on PinoyScreenCast's YouTube channel and watch his livestream of the launch. See some photos below.

asus zenfone zoom price

asus zenfone zoom back

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With the Manila-based tech bloggers. They are just awesome people. Hope I had more time talking with them. With the Manila-based tech bloggers. They are just awesome people. Hoped I had more time talking with them. LEFT:,, and

To learn more about the Zenfone Zoom (hands-on and initial impressions), you may check out my other post here.

Check-in time

Lunch, done. First product launch, done. And now we headed to our respective room assignments at the hotel. As expected Sunshine and Ria shared a single room, then Josef and me in another, but we were six floors apart. We had to freshen up and have more rest as the first activity of that day was to go to Magellan's Cross and Basilica Del Santo Niño. However, it took us almost an hour before we finally got checked in due to some minor issues that encountered when getting our room numbers and access cards. And when we were finally there, I did not expect how impressive our room was until I was in and saw the whole of the room.

marriott hotel cebu room

Believe me, the room itself in person is far more stunning and beautiful than what this only picture I manage to capture is showing. The lighting was also superb when I turned them on in the first night (feeling sosyal 'ika nga), there was super reliable internet connection via WiFi, a cable-connected massive flatscreen TV. Toiletries, coffee needs etc were all provided in the room. It was just an amazing staycation experience, if I may say that.

First Outdoor Activity with the Asus Zenfone Zoom

So the first activity of the day was to go around the famuos Magellan's Cross and Basilical Del Santo Niño in groups. I was with Ferdz Decena of and Adrian Benipayo (@andrianbenipayo on instagram) in addition to my three Davao blogger friends.

The goal was to capture as many photos as we could using the Asus Zenfone Zoom and itskey features like the 3X Optical Zoom, Laser Autofocus, Macro Shot and many others. We took photos of the people, what's going on and establishment of the place and posted them on instagram using the hashtag #SeeSinulogUpclose. If you are on instagram you can take a look at the photos of all participants using the hashtag. Below are some of the images we were able to take. My photography skills is not as good as those of Andrian and Ferdz, so I suggest you also check their photos on their respective instagram accounts.

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magellan's cross cebu

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I did not expect that large number of people around the Magellan's Cross, there were just too many devotedly attending the mass. This was also the first time I realized how faithful the people of Cebu are not just to the celebration itself but most of all to the Santo Niño. Unfortunately due to the same reason, we were not able to get close to the Basilica Del Santo Nino to get pictures.  Hopefully next time I will be able to.

Dinner time and Zenfone Max announcement

Around 7PM we were back to the hotel for dinner, Zenfone Max announcement and a quick overview of other Zenfone devices to be released with these two which are the Zenfone 2 Deluxe Special Edition (some people refered to it as the ROG Edition) and Zenfone 2 Laser 6.0.

zenfone 2 deluxe price

zenfone laser

zenfone max Asus PR Head Mr. Eason De Guzman introducing the main features of Asus Zenfone Max.

Asus Zenfone Max offers a large 5000mAh battery pack that can last for days without recharging. Read my hands-on and initial impressions article here about this Max.

Day 2

After a quick and sumptuous breakfast, we headed to the General Maxilom Avenue near Lighthouse Restaurant where the Grand Parade was to take place.  The objective was still the same, use the Zenfone Zoom, capture photos and #SeeSinulogUpclose.

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sinulog 2016 5 Josef with Asus peeps

sinulog 2016

Watching the grand parade was so fun and felt like a never-ending one as we were there as early as 10Am and stayed for a couple of hours capturing countless photos and hours of videos. It was a bit tiring and the sun was scorching hot above the head but it was all worth it. Those photos and videos of previous Sinulog celebrations I have seen online all came to life and much more colorful and heart-pumping in person.

I have to say that because of this experience, Cebuano people earned a lot of respect from me than ever before because I witnessed how dedicated and faithful they are when it comes to this festival, to their religion and of course to the Señor Santo Niño. Sinulog is a must-experience for every Filipino, not just once but for as many times as they can. And I am pretty sure this is just the first for me.

After seeing the parade and bombarding our respective social media sites of the photos and videos we manage to capture, we had a quick lunch with all the bloggers and Asus people at the famous Lighthouse Restaurant very near where the parade was, such a nice place, food and service.

The end of Asus event

This was actually the end of Asus event here. All of them headed back to the hotel and airport for their afternoon flight back to Manila. But me, Ria, Josef and Sunshine, like I mentioned above, stayed until the next day as we still had one more big event to attend that night. Smart Sinulog Invasion!

Back at the hotel, all of us freshened up, packed up and checked out. And since only until today was covered for our Marriott Hotel stay, this meant we had to transfer. Thankfully, Ria Jose's friend who also happens to be one of the owners of the Big Hotel along Park Mall Drive in Mandaue City, took us in at their newly-established budget-friendly hotel. A big shoutout to the Big Hotel people! Almost everything was perfect, the room, the service, the people, the lobby and most of all the breakfast, but WiFi connection was a bit slow.

big hotel cebu

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Visit them at

After the transfer we actually did nothing except to have as many rest and energy back as we could in preparation for the night's Smart Sinulog Invasion, hosted by Spectrum Philippines and Smart Communications.

Being a first timer in this place, it's a great thing that we were with Ria as she travels a lot. And being with a travel geek is a lot of help, she provided us all the information we needed and had to expect. She suggested we bring a disposable shirt as we would definitely get dirty and wet for this event, Sinulog is also known for street party and although it was the first year that it was banned, at least that's what I heard, we still saw a lot of people set up a party of their own by the streets. Ria added that, as we walk through the street, people might throw us something colorful and possibly wet and that's one of the things to expect from Sinulog fever, get wet and get dirty had have fun. So it's very important to note that everything with you should be okay to be soaked in liquid.

lechon belly cebu

Looking for the best boneless lechon belly in town? It's this, Ria suggested. Sitting right across the Big Hotel we were at. And yes, it is! I liked the spicy one better. We ate dinner here before heading to the Smart Invasion.

We had to walk most of the time from the Big Hotel to the Invasion venue which was at the Mango Ave due to most streets were closed for any type of vehicles. So we walked, it was about 8PM already, together with so many Cebuanos and visitors who were also to attend this event or another.

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And the rest of the night was history. : )

The next morning, we woke up about 9AM to have breakfast down near the lobby section of the hotel. Again, the breakfast was great. Almost every morning food was present, from coffee, bacon, eggs, dried fish, to champorado was all there. Then we checked out and travelled back to the airport for our 3PM flight back to Davao city.

lechon belly cebu 2 I just had and wanted to.

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Before I officially end this post, let nme share you the most recent video clip Smart Communications Inc just uploaded on their YouTube channel. Just an after movie of the Sinulog Invasion and Life Dance for the year, check it out below.

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